Author(s): Garnett MR, Blamire AM, Rajagopalan B, Styles P, CadouxHudson TA
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Abstract Neuropsychological studies in patients who have suffered traumatic brain injury show that the eventual clinical outcome is frequently worse than might be predicted from using conventional (CT or T(1)/T(2)-weighted MRI) imaging. Furthermore, patients who have sustained an initial mild or moderate injury may show long-term disability. This implies that there may be abnormalities in areas of the brain that actually appear normal on conventional imaging. Proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy studies have shown that N-acetylaspartate and choline-containing compounds can provide measures of cellular injury. We report MRI and proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy studies of 19 head-injured patients performed once the patients were clinically stable (mean 11 days after injury, range 3-38 days). Proton magnetic resonance spectra were acquired from frontal white matter that on conventional MRI appeared normal. The brain N-acetylaspartate/creatine ratio was reduced [patients (mean +/- standard deviation), 1.28 +/- 0.25; controls, 1.47 +/- 0. 24; P = 0.04] and the choline/creatine ratio was increased (patients, 0.85 +/- 0.18; controls, 0.63 +/- 0.10; P < 0.001) compared with controls. When the severity of the injury was assessed using either the Glasgow coma scale or the length of post-traumatic amnesia, the increase in the choline/creatine ratio was significant even in the mildly injured group (P = 0.008 and P = 0.04, respectively). Furthermore, there was a significant correlation (P = 0.008) between the severity of head injury and the N-acetylaspartate/choline ratio. We conclude that there is an early reduction in N-acetylaspartate and an increase in choline compounds in normal-appearing white matter which correlate with head injury severity, and that this may provide a pathological basis for the long-term neurological disability that is seen in these patients.
This article was published in Brain
and referenced in Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy